Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Topless and Twitter

Brad has recently opined the lovely uses of twitter in meetings. I love his utopian ideals. It would be great if we're all paying attention to the same things, but that's not the culture of the meeting. (You know you've started your xmas list in more than one meeting...fess up)

In a glorious time, we would all be paying attention to what's going on, and have an additive comment or two in a big group. We did this pretty successfully at the IA summit this year. However, the Summit is a conference of like minded people celebrating the joy of what they do.

Imagine what would happen if we had this continuous chatter going on in a set meeting with a set agenda.

Real Person: So, in chart A
Twitter: Chart A looks like ass
Twitter: Dave, can I get a chart A? Didn't read the meeting notice yet.
Real Person: Chart A shows the change of behavior over time
Twitter: Behavior? of what?
Twitter: When's lunch?

In all seriousness, I have heard comments from fellow practitioners hosting kickoff meetings, where everyone brought a laptop, and they all instant messaged each other about other projects. Not one single person actually was paying attention to the meeting - nothing got done.

Instead, I propose the 1 top meeting. Let's bring back the old fashioned function of the secretary who takes notes. There should be a designated note taker at every meeting; let them periodically twitter to have an additional record for remote staff to see in conjunction with a conference call or webex. But that's it - everyone else gets notebooks, whiteboards, or, if they're very good, a big sketchpad.

New technologies are supposed to enhance in-person contacts, not smash them flat, or fritter them into a sidebar. Meetings are not democracies, either - they're benevolent dictatorships run by a facilitator. Let everyone do what they are supposed to effectively, and we'll all benefit.

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